Session: WITHDRAWN Innovative Approaches to Reversing the Overrepresentation of Individuals with Behavioral Health Needs in the Criminal Legal System (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

30 WITHDRAWN Innovative Approaches to Reversing the Overrepresentation of Individuals with Behavioral Health Needs in the Criminal Legal System

Thursday, January 13, 2022: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Independence BR C, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Crime and Criminal Justice
Symposium Organizer:
Kathryn Bocanegra, PhD, Loyola University, Chicago
The social work profession has taken up the grand challenge of smart decarceration, prioritizing reducing incarcerated populations while maximizing safety and public health outcomes of communities disproportionately burdened with criminal justice contact. Among the public health concerns of the United States’ expansion of the carceral system is the overrepresentation of individuals with behavioral health needs in jails and prisons. Individuals diagnosed with severe mental illness or substance abuse are at increased risk of arrest, lengthier incarceration, and cyclical criminal legal involvement. Evidence suggested limited resources are available for treatment within jails/ prisons, and that once involved in the criminal justice system individuals with behavioral health needs are at increased risk for re-arrest and reconviction .

The following symposium explores four approaches to reduce the number of individuals with behavioral health needs in the criminal legal system. The first two studies examine the applicability of localized, place-based strategies to understanding mental illness, substance use, and criminal justice involvement. One study involves qualitative interviews and focus groups with criminal justice practitioners, formerly incarcerated men and women, and community residents exploring the potential of localized strategies to reduce criminal justice involvement of the target population. The second study examines the process of developing a community advisory board in two high incarceration neighborhoods to develop a survey tool and collect data on localized resources and social networks to prevent criminal justice contact among individuals with behavioral heal. The third study evaluates effective practices in community supervision to reduce recidivism among individuals with behavioral health diagnoses. The fourth study describes the implementation opportunities and challenges of conducting system-wide screening for behavioral health issues in a large probation department.

The papers within this symposium exemplify a range of social work research methods, including quantitative and qualitative approaches, community-engaged research, and implementation science. Each panelist presents analyses examining racial, behavioral, and spatial-level disparities in the administration of criminal justice with recommendations to redress these disparities within social work practice. The implications of the research are explored across ecological dimensions, ranging from individual-level interventions to policy recommendations. The panel provides critical insights into the opportunities for the profession’s smart decarceration challenge to ameliorate behavioral health disparities in communities disproportionately burdened with punishment.

* noted as presenting author
Studying the Implementation of a Novel Behavioral Health Screening Innovation in Large Probation Systems
Matthew Epperson, PhD, University of Chicago; Samantha Guz, MSSW, University of Chicago
Promoting Behavioral Health with Community Partners to Reduce Criminal Justice Involvement
Kathryn Bocanegra, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
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